We have found always the continental mode of dressing maccaroni the best. English cooks sometimes soak it in milk and, water for an hour or more, before it is boiled, that the pipes may be swollen to the utmost, but this is apt to render it pulpy, though its appearance may be improved by it. Drop it lightly, and by degrees, into a large pan of fast-boiling water, into which a little salt, and a bit of butter the size of a walnut, have previously been thrown, and of which the boiling should not be stopped by the addition of the maccaroni. In from three quar-ters of an hour to an hour this will be sufficiently tender; it should always be perfectly so, as it is otherwise indigestible, though the pipes should remain entire. Pour it into a large cullender, and drain the water well from it. It should be very softly boiled after the first minute or two.
3/4 to 1 hour.
This is dressed in precisely the same manner as the pipe maccaroni, out requires only from fourteen to sixteen minutes' boiling in water, and twenty or more in broth or stock.
Four ounces of pipe maccaroni is sufficient for a small dish, but from six to eight should be prepared for a family party where it is liked. The common English mode of dressing it is with grated cheese, butter, and cream, or milk. French cooks substitute generally a spoonful or two of very strong rich jellied gravy for the cream; and the Italians, amongst their many other modes of serving it, toss it in rich brown gravy, with sufficient grated cheese to flavour the whole strongly; they send it to table also simply laid into a good Espagnole or brown gravy (that drawn from the stufato, for example), accompanied by a plate of grated cheese. Another, and an easy mode of dressing it is to boil and drain it well, and to put it into a deep dish, strewing grated cheese on every layer, and adding bits of fresh butter to it. The top, in this case, should be covered with a layer of fine bread-crumbs, mixed with grated cheese these should be moistened plentifully with clarified butter, and colour given to them in the oven, or before the fire; the crumbs maybe omitted, and a layer of cheese substituted for them.
An excellent preparation of maccaroni may be made with any well-flavoured, dry white cheese, which can be grated easily, at much less cost than with the Parmesan, which is expensive, and in the country not always procurable even; we think that the rich brown gravy is also a great advantage to the dish, which is further improved by a tolerably high seasoning of cayenne. These, however, are innovations on the usual modes of serving it in England.
After it has been boiled quite tender, drain it well, dissolve from two to three ounces of good butter in a clean stewpan, with a few spoonsful of rich cream, or of white sauce, lay in part of the maccaroni, strew part of the cheese upon it, add the remainder of the maccaroni and the cheese, and toss the whole gently until the ingredients are well incorporated, and adhere to the maccaroni, leaving no liquid perceptible: serve it immediately.
Maccaroni, 6 ozs.; butter, 3 ozs.; Parmesan cheese, 6 ozs.; cream, 4 tablespoonsful.
If preferred so, cheese may be strewed thickly over the maccaroni after it is dished, and just melted and browned with a salamander.
This is a very excellent and delicate mode of dressing maccaroni. Boil eight ounces in the usual way (see page 302), and by the time it is sufficiently tender, dissolve gently ten ounces of any rich, well-flavoured white cheese in full three quarters of a pint of good cream ; add a little salt, a rather full seasoning of cayenne, from half to a whole saltspoon-ful of pounded mace, and a couple of ounces of sweet fresh butter. The cheese should, in the first instance, be sliced very thin, and taken quite free of the hard part adjoining the rind; it should be stirred in the cream without intermission until it is entirely dissolved, and the whole is perfectly smooth: the maccaroni, previously well-drained, may then be tossed gently in it, or after it is dished, the cheese may be poured equally over the maccaroni. The whole, in either case, may be thickly covered before it is sent to table, with fine crumbs of bread fried of a pale gold colour, and dried perfectly, either before the fire or in an oven, when such an addition is considered an improvement. As a matter of precaution, it is better to boil the cream before the cheese is melted in it; rich white sauce, or bechamel, made not very thick, with an additional ounce or two of butter, may be used to vary and enrich this preparation.
If Parmesan cheese* be used for it, it must of course be grated. Half the quantity may be served.
Maccaroni, 1/2 lb.; cheese, 10 ozs.; good cream, 3/4 pint (or rich white sauce); butter, 2 ozs. (or more); little salt, fine cayenne, and mace.